Zika vaccines and therapeutics: Landscape analysis and challenges ahead

Annelies Wilder-Smith, Kirsten Vannice, Anna Durbin, Joachim Hombach, Stephen J. Thomas, Irani Thevarjan, Cameron P. Simmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Various Zika virus (ZIKV) vaccine candidates are currently in development. Nevertheless, unique challenges in clinical development and regulatory pathways may hinder the licensure of high-quality, safe, and effective ZIKV vaccines. Discussion: Implementing phase 3 efficacy trials will be difficult given the challenges of the spatio-temporal heterogeneity of ZIKV transmission, the unpredictability of ZIKV epidemics, the broad spectrum of clinical manifestations making a single definite endpoint difficult, a lack of sensitive and specific diagnostic assays, and the need for inclusion of vulnerable target populations. In addition to a vaccine, drugs for primary prophylaxis, post-exposure prophylaxis, or treatment should also be developed to prevent or mitigate the severity of congenital Zika syndrome. Conclusion: Establishing the feasibility of immune correlates and/or surrogates are a priority. Given the challenges in conducting phase 3 trials at a time of waning incidence, human challenge trials should be considered to evaluate efficacy. Continued financial support and engagement of industry partners will be essential to the successful development, licensure, and accessibility of Zika vaccines or therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number84
JournalBMC medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 6 2018


  • Anti-virals
  • Clinical endpoints
  • Efficacy trials
  • Flavivirus
  • Human controlled infections
  • Immune correlates
  • Immune surrogates
  • Monoclonal antibodies
  • Prophylaxis
  • Therapeutics
  • Zika
  • Zika diagnostics
  • Zika vaccines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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